Alleged victim gives evidence in trial of Lismore priest

IN COURT: Lismore Catholic priest John Patrick Casey.
IN COURT: Lismore Catholic priest John Patrick Casey. Leah White

THE first alleged victim in the historical sexual assault trial against Lismore priest John Patrick Casey has given evidence in a closed session of the Lismore District Court.

Casey has been charged with 27 counts of sexual assault, indecent assault and rape of three boys who were under the age of 16 when the offences are said to have occurred in the 1980s.

The trial will cover 18 separate incidents.

Due to a change in law when the majority of the alleged offences occurred, from June 10, 1985 to May 30, 1987, a number of the charges have been paired to address the change in law.

The first victim, who is now in his 40s, was the third witness to be called to provide evidence in the trial.

The court was closed to the public, which included media and Casey's 15 supporters, at 12.15pm.

In his opening address on Monday, the crown prosecutor said his case would focus on the testament of the three victims to which the charges relate.

The names of the victims and any information that may identify them cannot be released because of a suppression order.

The first charge in the trial, assault and commit act of indecency, is the only charge that applies to the first victim.

Yesterday the crown prosecutor told the jury the first victim would likely talk about an incident that he said occurred at the Mallanganee Presbytery between January 1, 1985 and December 31, 1985.

He said the victim, who was between the ages of 12 and 13 at the time, would likely say he and his friend had been out sightseeing with the accused while in his care.

When the victim went in the bathroom to have a shower, he would tell the court Casey went into the bathroom with him, undressed, got into the shower and offered to wash him.

Defence barrister Charles Waterstreet told the jury in his opening address that Casey would plead not guilty to all the charges.

He said the defence's case would question why there were no witnesses present in any of the alleged incidents and how the unrelated trauma and family dynamics of the victims may have resulted in the "untrue" allegations against his client.

"His case is going to be that he did not do any of these disgusting acts to any of the young boys," Mr Waterstreet said.

The first witness to give evidence in the trial was the first victim's aunt, who appeared yesterday and again today.

She was questioned about two separate statements she gave to police last year.

The second witness was the officer in charge of the investigation, a detective senior constable attached to the Casino police station.

The jury was shown images taken last year at the location that was the Mallanganee Presbytery and church which included a water tank pool, mosaic tiles and corrugated iron shed.

The trial is expected to last between three and four weeks.

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